This is part of The Recession is Bullhonkey series, where I share stories of those who have gotten hired and/or started their own businesses (or sometimes both!) since 2008. This is the story of my former client, Rene, who left her six-figure career to start her own spa. Although she acknowledges that it’s “completely expendable” in this economy, she’s found ways to make it a true success. Read on!
The life of my career has ebbed and flowed since graduating from college. I have always been somewhat of a risk taker, but I never fully committed to the life I dreamed of and always wondered how other people achieved.
So…I began my career in corporate sales, and it lasted 11 years. I truly despised my sales profession but I was ever so good at it. I had two things going for me. I was sincere and honest with my clients. And, I constantly thought about them and how I could make their job/life easier.
When I finally got the courage to leave my sales job, I was at the top of my game earning a six-figure salary and six-figure bonuses. My friends and family couldn’t believe that I would even consider leaving…but I did. I took a job as a part-time marketing coordinator with a law firm, earning less than $30,000 per year, and I enrolled in beauty school.
What? Quit your six-figure career and go to beauty school! Who does this?
Yes, I remember the song from Grease, “Beauty School Drop Out”—but that wasn’t going to be me. I had big plans. This was in 2006. I graduated from beauty school, quit the law firm and began working as an esthetician. But…I still didn’t have the courage to stick with it. I found myself lured back into the “professional” world, and I took a job with a marketing and public relations firm. At the same time, I started an email marketing company for spas and salons. Eventually, I found myself back in legal marketing but this time directing the strategic plans for a firm in Newport Beach. I did this until 2013.
I began working with Michelle Ward in January 2014, and since that time, I have opened my very own spa…yes, my very own spa…and did I mention that it has an ocean view?
Here are a few of the key things that I learned from working with Michelle:
1. When I said “no” to new sales/marketing business opportunities, I was saying yes to my new career and giving it all of my energy. The more times I said no, the more doors would open for me in my new quest.
2. Starting small has allowed me to take the risk without placing too much financial stress on me. I had opportunities to start big on a major thoroughfare with lots of space, and it really made me nervous. Instead I waited, and a small, intimate space became available a few blocks from my home.
The title of this column is The Recession is Bullhonkey so I would like to offer my opinions on the topic.
The spa business is completely expendable. We offer skincare, waxing and massage. These are luxury services that are quickly cut from personal budgets when times get tough.
I opened my spa with no clientele and with the knowledge that if I build it, they will come. Yes, lots of people think that…but I know it in my heart. I offer something beyond great services…I offer the same sincerity and honesty that took me to the top of my game in my sales career. I am passionate about changing the lives of those I touch…even if it’s just for the day. I have created a magical retreat for people to escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.
So…how am I doing? I am slowly building my business and am paying my bills, and I am having the time of my life. I am incorporating every marketing idea I can think of, including:
• Pizza box advertising with my neighborhood pizza parlor
• Leasing a Smart car and having it wrapped with my logo for amazing mobile advertising
• Flooding the neighborhood with beautiful flyers about the spa
• Placing service menus in the local hotels that don’t have in-house spas
• Collaborating with other local businesses to do email marketing – which puts the spa name in front of their entire list of clients.
• Placing my service menus and brochures in hospital nurses lounges
• Donating services to local schools’ end-of-the-year teacher parties
• Building a presence with social media
I send a hand-written thank you note to every new client. I call my clients the day after their service to make sure they are feeling great and to answer any questions they may have. I ask for referrals and my clients earn service dollars for making referrals.
Yes…the recession is bullhonkey! My business is growing with new clients every day. They are booking appointments like our signature Beach Body Buff & Polish, and they are coming back month after month.
I offer these simple words of advice to those pursuing their dream career: Listen to your gut (intuition is so critical). Be sincere. Be honest. Take Action.
René Brookbank is a licensed esthetician specializing in skincare, facials, dermaplaning, and meticulous waxing at her spa, Beach Beauty Bar. Her passion for fashion and beauty combined with her thirst for knowledge keep René on the cutting edge of skincare science and beauty trends. Her work is about the human connection and invoking positive, healing energy within each of her clients. René believes that nurturing the body, mind, and spirit encourages natural beauty to shine through.